Fans of model aeroplanes which regularly take to the skies most days in Tauranga are often perceived as a niche group of people.
But members of the Tauranga Model Aircraft Club were a diverse bunch of people from all walks of life, club secretary Dave Marriott said.
Marriott said the club had 50 active members, another 25 associate members and about the same number of enthusiasts who tagged along with members from time to time.
Members ranged in age from 11 years to their late 80s, he said.
"We have members who are ex-air force pilots and former commercial pilots, including one who used to fly 747s and another who flew commercial planes in the Philippines.
"Our membership includes school children, tradespeople and professionals, which includes an anaesthetist. We also recently had a dentist join the club," Marriott said.
The club, which formed in 1946, is one of the oldest clubs in Tauranga, he said.
The club's flying site is at TECT All Terrain Park on Pyes Pa Rd, with a 35-year lease from Western Bay of Plenty District Council to use it.
Marriott said the park site, which included two runways, offered the ideal flying location to land the most demanding models.
"We cater for most types of model aircraft, including gas and electric-powered planes, gliders, and helicopters," he said.
The club had spent $200,000 adding buildings and developing the site thanks to charitable grants and members' own funding efforts, Marriott said.
Members flew their craft any day of the week when the weather was suitable, and local council and Civil Aviation Authority rules applied.
Designing, building and flying model aircraft was an "addictive" hobby that anyone could enjoy no matter what their age or gender, Marriott said.
"Some members spend years and years building a superb replica of vintage model aircraft but get someone else to fly it, others only fly these aircraft and some do both," he said.
Marriott said it was an "electric" feeling watching one of these model craft take to the skies, but the most important thing was learning to land it safely.
"There is nothing worse than watching your pride and joy crash on landing, leaving a pile of debris spread all over the runway," he said.
Marriott said the hobby was as expensive as enthusiasts wanted it to be, some craft cost as much as $5000, but for $100 you could buy a training model and a transmitter.
The club was holding its annual fundraising auction hosted by Classic Flyers Museum on June 17 which attracts hundreds of enthusiasts from around the North Island.
Anyone interested in joining the club was welcome to attend, or phone Dave Marriott on 021 909 407 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.